Monday 23 July 2018

Revisiting Neil: Is My Gremlin Locked? - The Creative Process


A while ago, I talked about my writing gremlin. I named him Neil and talked about the steps I'd taken to quiet his voice. You can find those pieces here and here. However, it been a few years and things have changed and so I thought I would talk about how Neil still has an effect on me, even after all this time as a writer. In all honesty, I don't think there will come a time when I *don't* feel Neil's presence. I have more experience than I did a year ago or more, but I do have an anxiety disorder and I know I have problems with self-esteem and all of that.

So how do I move forward? How do I make it work for me, knowing that I am probably always going to hear those whispers of both imposter syndrome and also not feeling like I am enough writing wise? Some of it is trial and error, some of it comes from being able to implement the tools my therapist has given me and some of it is also gaining confidence in my own ability and work. All of that together can lead to being able to quiet that voice to a hushed whisper and ignore it on days when it hits me hard. So how do I manage that? I'm going to give you some of my tips, while also asking you to bear in mind a few things. I am not a trained psychologist or doctor. I am also only able to give you tips that work for me. They might not for you and that's okay. You just need to find the tools that will.


The one big thing you need as an author, a writer, well anyone really, but in this instance writing, is a support network. Whether that's people online or in your life, you need people that you can go to with your worries and know that they will hear you out and help you deal with things. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to B or Kim, who are both in contact with me daily, and had a worry shared and them talk it through with me. I know that I am very lucky to have that and it's not always easy for people to find their people as it were, but these can come in the shape of critique partners or betas, fellow authors and readers. It doesn't have to be all offline people, you make the friends where you do and family can, sometimes, also be a good support network.

While there is a lot to be said in presenting a confident front, and I agree with that to a point, people, as in readers and others, will want to know that the person they see is the same person writing the book. What I mean by this is, it's okay to have moments where you struggle. While it's probably not best to rant about it on your twitter or blog talking about how you suck and should never write all the time, it's okay to have blips. Everyone has them and that just makes you human. To continue on this note, it's okay to not need to do that. I personally don't take the down moments and put them on my social media. Simply because I have a great support network and it doesn't need to happen. However, I completely get that for some people their support network is on those sites, so I'm not going to pretend that you shouldn't allow yourself that support however it comes.


I know this plays somewhat into the support network and all of that, but a big thing for me is remembering that I'm not the only person, creative or otherwise, to feel this way. Confidence is something some people have and others don't. I wish it was as simple as just writing something and being amazed by it, but then again I look back and realise just how far I've come, which I'll cover in another point. Remembering that you're not alone helps me, it reminds me that everyone struggles and that it's okay to do so. Sometimes you need to reach out for help, and that's okay.


This is a big one for me as well. I look back at the first draft of a book and then remember as I went through each stage of revisions. With every new draft, that book has transformed from the idea to the finished product. And it's okay to remember that while I loved Blackout when it was done, I have grown as a writer, I will continue to grow as a writer. I keep writing and I'm always going to keep growing and that's so important for someone to realise. Where you start with a first draft is often miles apart from where you finish. It's a great boost to be able to look at the end product and remember that the project you're working on now will one day get to that stage and will be so much better for it.

It's okay to need more than just friends and tips from a blog. It's okay to need medication and therapy. There is nothing wrong with any of those, and if you need help, it's okay to ask for it. Like I said, I've got medication, I've got a therapist, and if you need that, then you need it. I can't advocate enough for getting the help you need to be the best person you can be. There's no shame in it, at least in my eyes.

So those are my five tips on dealing with gremlins. I wish it were as simple as locking them in a cage and throwing away the key, but mental health and the things that go along with that sometimes need more. They also don't generally just go away. It's a lifelong thing and everybody has some level of anxiety. It's when it becomes something you can't move past that you need to realise that getting help for it doesn't make you a bad person.

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